Never had a name for this one until #Brett#Hulen “designed” a similar fly and called it a Slum Hustler.
I’d been fishing this for a long time in this variant style using a different head and different colors. I may tie it a bit differently, but it’s the same basic idea as Brett’s.
It’s a great fly for dirty, fast water as you can see from Brett’s photo post of the dandy trout.
I’m a fan of black and blue as you see. Maybe it should be called the Slum Bruiser. LOL.
Thanks for your original post Brett. I needed to tie some of these to replace those chewed up by the trout.
I don’t think you will be sorry trying the “bruiser” colors Brett. Black and blue seem to be the ticket in any stained or dirty water.
Originally, I tied this style of Hustler/Buster fly using a small lead head jig hook. Never satisfied with any pattern, I started experimenting. By squeezing the front of the jig head in a pliers, it took on a more tapered, baitfish style profile.
Now there are all sorts of fish skull/helmets available that are much more realistic imitations. I’m not sure the head shape adds to or detracts much from the pattern’s effectiveness. What do you think? Is it another case of catching fishermen instead of fish?
@trublubug honestly I like fish skulls for the easy application of eyes, and with zonker style patterns it makes the the fly have a tall yet slim profile which to me is a great fish imitation and helps it sink quickly. At the end of the day I’m sure if I were to tie a slum hustler with a jig hook or cone head it would to equally as well, but it gives me the confidence I need to fish the fly to its full potential. If I’m confident in a pattern I’m more likely to try different retrieves and locations until I make it work as apposed to tying on a new fly
Thanks #Brett#Hulen. I couldn’t agree more with you about the “confidence” factor. When I just want to catch fish, I go to my box of “confidence” flies. The sad part for me is that I’ve got lots of these patterns and yet I’m always looking for more of them. Some people are just born with a “hungry heart” as per the Boss. Lol.
Glad to #Patrick#Houlton.
Hook: Any wide gap, short shank hook size 6 or custom bend a 3xl size 8 to widen the gap. If you want, tie it on 90 degree jig hook, again bent to open the hook gap
Weight: Fish skull head (optional; additional wraps of lead sub)
Tail: black micro rabbit zonker or a squirrel zonker strip (I cut my own to about 1/8” wide when using rabbit).
Body: silver doctor blue crystal or cactus chenille or New Age Chenille.
Flash: 4-5 short strands silver doctor blue flashabou per side. Keep the flash length to about half way down the tail
Collar: same as tail but wrap the strip “around” the hook shank as a collar
Hackle: silver doctor blue soft hackle.
Michael, if you want it easy, use a fishskull. These have a custom head I make myself using a heart shaped bead from the craft store and countersunk to take the stick on eyes.
I take the extra effort to make my own because I like to be able to control the weight and sink rates.
#billtrublubug Just saw your reply; thanks for the tying instructions. I just read an article about the trout eyes; it said they see blue and black the best, especially when the UV saturation gets low, such as at night or...dirty water! It makes a lot of sense then why the bruiser color combo works well for you in run-off/spring time water. I'll definitely be tying some in that combo.
I don't have any blue hackle but I should be able to dye some. I've got some grizzly hackle that would look sweet in blue. I saw on a different post that you dye your own feathers; what do you use? I've played with Kool-aid and McCormick dyes...haven't tried the Rit dye yet though.
#houlton Patrick, I’ll assume you want to dye small lots of feathers and aren’t thinking production tying. Keeping colors “true” is dependent on the starting material. White obviously is the first choice if you want the material to be the exact shade of the dye.
I’d better post several times to keep this from getting too long. This is part one:
The key to it all seems to be in the cleaning process. I’ve not found it necessary to use commercial degreasers. I use a warm, not quite hot bath using dishwashing liquid and soak the feathers in the bath. Agitate the feathers several times during the bath. Length of time is dependent on the cleanliness of the feathers. A 30 minute soak seems to be adequate for most feathers purchased from the tying supply houses. After the bath, rinse several times with cold water until there are no suds. Remove as much excess water as possible by pouring through a strainer. I use a piece of fiberglass screening material (left over from the patio enclosure). Never tried wire screening myself always assuming some contamination might occur.
Spread out the cleaned feathers and place on an absorbent material and change it as it gets wet. I’ve seen suggestions to use newspaper but again, fearing bleeding from the newsprint, I use cheap paper towels. Allow to air dry completely (this is my toughest obstacle). Hurrying the drying with hair dryers has not been especially useful. Blot the moisture out and be patient. Setting the spread feathers “next to” a radiant heat source seems to be ok, not on top of it.
Keeping colors “true” is dependent on the starting material. White obviously is the first choice if you want the material to be the exact shade of the dye. Time to move on from the prep.
Forget the stovetop and saucepan routine. Hunt up a dormitory size microwave at a yard sale. Cheap insurance against significant other infuriation. LOL
Use a Pyrex glass vessel holding about 4 cups. (I like flat glass baking dishes better than measuring cups. Add two cups water to the dish. Add a very “small” amount of dye and mix carefully. Add the feathers, vinyl gloves are suggested. I usually cover the baking dish loosely with paper toweling and then bring the water to a boil in the micro.
Remove IMMEDIATELY from micro. Using a tweezers, Carefully check coloring process. Be careful with the liquid and feathers, they are damn hot. When your feathers reach the desired shade, add a tablespoon of white vinegar as a mordant and bring to a second boil. Suggest this be done outdoors if possible, again avoiding spousal disapproval. Use an implement to remove dyed feathers to a cold water bath. Rinse repeatedly with cold water until rinse water is clear. Dry as before.
Long process but works for me. Hope this helps.
#billtrublubug Thanks for the thorough reply! I haven't been letting my feathers dry after the 1st wash, which sounds like a good idea. I also have been adding the vinegar BEFORE microwaving. I'll try it your way since I know the vinegar can affect some dyes. I just thought the vinegar was needed to get the feathers to take the dye, but I guess it's only needed to lock the dye in place, so to speak.
--What brand dye do you use? When I've tried mixing the McCormick food coloring, I find that feathers only take part of the coloring, so I don't end up with the right shade.
--Kool-Aid: I added vinegar to help the color bind better. My orange and purple turned out well, but I'll see how it goes after the feathers have been fished for a season. Maybe the color will fade over time.
#houlton Patrick, since dyes are water soluble, wet feathers usually give inconsistent dye uptake. I’ve also done the vinegar before the micro and gotten inconsistent results. Not sure whether it’s much of an issue unless certain colors are used?
Food coloring dyes in my hands are less less effective and generally less reproducible. Since you’ve had some success with them and I’ve not been especially successful, perhaps it’s the water supplies we use???? Just a thought. I’m considering the use of distilled/purified water for all my dying but have been too lazy to conduct the comparison experiment.
My orange Kool-aid experiments didn’t work out well in that the orange faded quickly once the fly was fished. This was true for both feathers and bunny zonker strips.
Forgot to answer your question on dye brand. Most proteins require an acid based dye. Rit dyes are a combination dye for a variety of materials including synthetics. They have nonetheless worked well for me. Others swear by Veniard or Dharma. Guess it’s all a grab bag.
#billtrublubug That's a really good point about the wet feathers. And I've only had luck using a single color of food coloring: solid blue, red, etc. I've attempted several mixes and gotten really inconsistent results, sometimes to the point where the base of the feather will be a different color/shade than the tip. I'll have to take a look at Rit dyes.
Regarding dying zonker: I tried dying some white rabbit strips but the leather backing got all brittle and messed up after I dried them. Any thoughts on that?
If you're looking for an all-natural and fun (in my opinion) experiment, I did use yellow onion skin (the dry brown outer layer) one time for a batch and it turned out fantastic. A really nice golden-brown color. I found a website that has all kinds of different natural dies, yellow and red onion producing the most concentrated color.
#houlton Patrick, fur is usually much harder to dye than feathers. I’d guess your issue with the zonkers was due to overheating. Did you need to use an extended amount of time in the hot dye bath to attain your desired color? Did the leather strip turn the color you desired for the fur?
Another possible issue also has to do with heat during drying after the dye job. If you hurried the drying with a hair dryer, you might have killed the suppleness of the leather. Not sure you did this but the drying needs to be done by blotting out the liquid and then just being patient. I lack this quality when it comes to dying materials. I can’t wait to use them but have found it is not generally useful to rush the drying.
Rit dyes work for me especially when trying for “earth tones”. Really bright colors are more difficult to attain. The food coloring dyes, including Kool-aid, don’t follow the color mixing rules the way acid based dyes do. I can’t seem to get the results I want by mixing colors/flavors. As you said, single colors are ok but blending seems to fail in my hands.
#houlton One more question Patrick re the zonker strips? Were they dry or wet prior to dying? Unlike feathers, most “experts” suggest leaving fur strips wet. I’ve found it is usually better to buy commercially dyed Zonkers in my color choice unless you want some really special color.
That onion skin notion sounds interesting. Hummmmmm.
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